Quick Tip: Customize Contact Forms on Your Writer Website

on August 5, 2014 in Freelance Writing

custom contact forms

If you have a freelance writing website to help attract prospects and convert leads, you probably have a contact page. On that page, you might even have a contact form. But are you making the most of it?

If your contact form is the generic sender-subject-message style, you're not.

Instead, why not turn your contact page into a better lead-generating machine by converting your contact form into a more advanced quote request or project brief form?

This is when you add fields that let prospects talk about their project up front -- what they want, what deadline they have in mind, and what their budget is for example.

Why Use an Advanced Contact Form?

The benefit of this kind of contact form is that you can pre-qualify prospects before you take the time to deliver customized quotes. Prospects don't always know what kind of information you need when they first reach out to you. A quote-oriented contact form fixes that.

You won't get into a lengthy back-and-forth discussion about project details only to find out they can't afford you or they have unrealistic deadline expectations. You'll know about these issues up front, and you'll be able to turn down the gig, refer the prospect to another writer, or figure out how to approach the topic for negotiations.

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Emails from prospects increased for me by nearly 30% when I made the change on my own business site (asking for estimated turnaround times, word counts / page counts, and budgets). And that's just with the first version, which is much longer than I'd like. I still plan to tweak it to test different copy and different form lengths. I suspect there's quite a bit of room for optimization.

If you're worried about people wanting to send a more general email being turned off by your advanced contact form, don't. You can always include your email link on the page as well for more general inquiries.

What Your Project Brief Form Can Include

Here are some examples of what you might include in your project brief or quote request form. You do not have to use all of them. And remember, you can always make some fields optional.

  • Prospect's name
  • Prospect's company
  • Prospect's field or industry (more relevant if you only work in specific industries)
  • Project type / title
  • Project scope / details
  • Estimated deadline
  • Estimated budget
  • Estimate page count / word count / article count
  • How the client found you

Contact Form Plugins

One of the plugins I would recommend for this if you use WordPress is Contact Form 7. It's more than flexible enough to handle these kinds of customized contact forms. For more advanced projects (like the job board here and it's job post form) I use Formidable Pro, which would also be a good option for this if you have it.

Do you use an advanced contact form on your freelance writing website? What fields do you include (and which do you require prospects to fill out)? Can you think of other things someone might want to include in their forms, or another plugin or tool freelancers can use to create one? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Thanks for sharing!
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. Through her company, 3 Beat Media, she operates All Indie Writers, NakedPR.com, BizAmmo.com, and numerous other blogs.

Jenn has over 15 years experience writing for others, over 11 years experience in blogging, and 9 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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  1. Cathy Miller August 5, 2014 Reply

    Guilty as charged. Thanks for the ideas, Jenn – and the extra task. 😉

  2. KeriLynn Engel August 6, 2014 Reply

    You know, I never had one of these because I was thinking that asking lots of questions would discourage people from filling out the form. I was thinking that a simpler form would get more responses, because it’s easier and faster to fill out.

    But now that I’m thinking about it, it makes more sense to get as much detail as possible. I’m going to be asking them these questions anyway. And if they’re contacting me about a project then they already have the answers in mind, but may not know what specific details I need.

    Thanks, I’m going to add this right now 🙂

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern August 6, 2014 Reply

      Let me know how it works out for you! 🙂

      I had a similar concern early on, but it didn’t seem to discourage anyone. And the messages I received were much more targeted. It saves me a lot of time in general, as well as the prospect. It doesn’t take them 2 or 3 emails to get around to telling me their deadline. Now if I can’t meet it, I can immediately refer them to someone else — great for networking (the more referrals you give, the more you get), and great for the prospect-in-a-hurry.

  3. Anne Wayman August 8, 2014 Reply

    I’m with Cathy… I depend on email and my phone… will have to think about this again. Thanks, I think 😉

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